Medea And Dido Essay, Research Paper
The story of a scorned woman has been told in many different ways. In Medea and the Aeneid both Dido and Medea are driven by passion. The old saying that all s fair in love and war fits these stories well. While Medea handled it through revenge, Dido handled her scorn through suicide.
Of all the characters in the Aeneid, Dido is probably the one you might relate to the most. She s the most human. She s beautiful, generous, kind and successful. She has strong emotions. She s the queen of a busy city, Carthage. When you fist see her, she offers a welcome relief from Aeneas endless problems. But she ends up killing herself. What goes wrong?
On the simplest level, Dido s story is the classic story of unresolved love. She loves Aeneas more than he loves her, for a year they have a passionate affair and everything is great. But then Mercury reminds Aeneas that he must find Rome. If future history s glories do not affect you, if you will not strive for your own honor, think of Ascanius, think of the expectations of your heir, Iulus, to whom the Italian realm, the land of Rome, are due (Virgil 1037) His respect for the gods and his duty to his people bear more weight than his love for Dido. But nothing is more important to Dido than her love for Aeneas. She burns with love. She is totally distracted. When Aeneas finally leaves, she becomes alternately bitter, vindictive, and pathetic. She curses Aeneas by saying, let him see the unmerited deaths of those around him, and accepting peace on unjust terms, let him not, even so, enjoy his kingdom or the life he longs for, but fall in battle before his time and lie unburied on the sand. (Virgil 1047)
Where did this passion come from? What happens to Dido is not her fault. She s the victim of the gods and of Aeneas fate to go to Italy. Part of Virgil s theme here is simply that life is extremely unfair to some people. Virgil wants you to feel sorry for Dido.
Whatever started it, this excessive passion destroys Dido. For one thing it makes her irrational. I die unavenged, she said, but let me die this way, this way, a blessed relief to go into the undergloom. (Virgil 1048) Let the cold Trojan, far at sea, drink in this conflagration and take with him the omen of my death Aeneas story should have warned her that he would leave eventually leave for Italy. A more rational person would at least have asked him what his plans were. Instead, Dido gets married in a mock ceremony in a cave-something only she believes is a real marriage.
Medea is torn between the conflicting emotions of maternal love and her intense desire for revenge against Jason. She is a proud, headstrong woman, dominated by her passions rather than by reason. Euripides demonstrated Medea s unrestrained emotional passion even before the events of the play when she betrayed her family and people because of her love for Jason. Her behavior in the tragedy is determined by this trait of character despite her momentary hesitation before murdering her children. I weep to think of what a deed I have to do next after that; for I shall kill my own children. (Euripides 686) Medea will do anything that her heart leads her to do. When wronged, she demands satisfaction at any cost. She does not pause to consider the consequences or morality of her deeds and has no concern for those who will suffer as a result of her actions, whether they be innocent king and princess of Thebes, her own children. This is best shown through the nurse, I am afraid she may think of some dreadful thing, for her heart is violent. She will never put up with the treatment she is getting. I know and fear her lest she may sharpen a sword and thrust to the heart, stealing into the palace where the bed is made, or even kill the king and the new-wedded groom (Euripides 670) In Medea Euripides drew a stark and fascinating picture of a woman driven only by passion.
All s fair in love and war. Their passion drove them to do the things that were done. Both Dido and Medea did whatever they could to get revenge. It didn t matter who was in the way or how it came to be. All that mattered in the end was that the goal was achieved.
Works Cited Page
Euripides. Medea. The Norton Anthology World Masterpieces. Expanded Edition
Volume I. Ed. Maynard Mack. W.W. Norton and Company, 1995. 669-700
Virgil. The Aeneid. The Norton Anthology World Masterpieces. Expanded Edition
Volume I. Ed. Maynard Mack. W.W. Norton and Company, 1995. 1000-1065